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Private Tucker

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He was a plaiu man, with a plain name. Bef ore William Tticker, Esq., beoame known to the world of nien he had been a plain boy, very good, very tender hearted and very mtich in earnest about nothing in particular. Smaller boya cheeked him with impunity and made him fag for thein ; bigger boys simply ignored him. Grown to manhood, there was but little ohange in him. His juniors snubbed him and voted him a fool; his seniora for the most part imposed upon him. He submitted to it all with the best possible grace, glad only to be taken notice of in any way and apparently considering that it was the only thing he oould expect. Then, as though life itself, as it stood, did not hold suffieient bitterness for him, he fell in love. He must have known from the very first that it was all hopeless and that it could at the best only disturb his peace of mind. But he went on nevertheless in his own dnll, stnpid fashion, content only to touch her hand oocasionally, to get a sort of socond rate smile from her. It is probable that therewas no thonght of any future in his mind. He would turn up quite unexpectedly at any place to which he knew she would be going. He would linger about nervously and unhappily in corners, so that he ruight have the opportunity of looking at her. He seemed to ask for nothing more. He would carry parcela and run messages for the pretty child - she was but little more - and considered himself well paid if he received only a smile in return. Once she was ill, and he scarcely left the house in which she lay until she was well again. He haunted it by day. He lingered about aimlessly at night. He ruined himself by his lavish purchases of flowera and hothouse fruit. When at last one summer day he was told that she was convalescent, and that she would see him, he feit that heaven was within sight. He was shown out into a garden, where she was seated in a great chair, with all her delicate beauty thrown into stronger relief by the white bearskin rug against which she leaned. She looked so pale and weak that, if anything could have increased his love for her, her appearance alone would have done it. "You have been very kind, Mr. Tueker, " she said in a low voice, "and I am very grateful. You have done so much for me, acd your flowers have been with me every day. ' ' There were tears in her brown eyes as she finished speaking and held out her hand to him. Then it was that William Tucker made the one chief mistake of his life, and, in stammering utterances, tried to teil her of the emotion which possessed him. But she staid him with a light hand upon his lips. "I am more grateful even than before," she said slowly, "bat you offer me a gift which I cannot accept. I cannot teil you how sorry I am or how much I believe in all that you have told me. But I love another man, and I love him very dearly. " He was silent for a few moments, standing there with his eyes cast npon the ground like a scolded schoolboy. But he looked up at last, with something of a smile breaking across the whiteness of his face. "I migbt have known, " he said slowly. "I ruight have known, above all thiugs, that it ia not for snob a man as I am to snatch so great a prize. I migbt have known that it was the best and wisest thing for me to remain only your friend - only your faithful dog, who may try to be of service to you sometimes. Can you forgive me euöiciently to let me still hold that place in your thoughts?" "I shall hope that you will be my very good friend always, Mr. Tucker," she said gently. "I am to marry Lieutenant Lacey. I should have told you bef ore. ' ' "Believe me, I am very glad, " he replied. "I am only a dull dog, but I ahould be a poor sort of fellow indeed if I did not appreciate your kin dness and your confidence. ' ' Therëafter the dull, stupid, commonplace man showed so delicate a tact and was also so cheerfully generous to the man who had taken the place he had hoped to occupy that she grew to have a regard for him ' that was almost like that of a younger sister for a brother in whom she implioitly believed and trusted. For his part he was proud of the position and would not have lost it for anything else that the world might f er. To all ethers besides herself he was the same dnll, stnpid fellow that he bad ever been. She came to him one day weeping and in great distress and told him that her lover had been ordered to África with his regiment. War was looming on the Horizon, and the work there wonld be dtsperate. "I know how brave he is, "shesobbed, "and I know that he will go there with no arm save his own to stand between him and death. I think I would give the world to know that there was some one with him who wonld watch over him and bring him back to me at last." The words were carelessly spoken - said only in the agony of the moment. Bnt her head was on the poor, foolish fellow 's breast, her hands were tonching his, and the words spoke to him trampet tongued, even as a command. Ee had no thuught in his simple heart but that he might be of service to her and might help this man wbom she lored. The next day William Tucker, Esq. , left the world wherein men had laughed at him, and Private William Tucker entered the regiment which had been ordered to the front, and of which Lieuteuaut Charles Lauey was cue of the officers, In the course of time Private William Tucker beoaiue merged as a mere unit in the regiment to which he belonged, and, with acertain latent purpose ín hia mind, was glad to lose sight of the world he had left behind and to take his place as one of the rank and file. The latent purpose was never known - at least until the end - but it became a tradition among the rough men with whom he served thatwherever the lithe and active form of Lieutenant Charles Lacey was seen in the fight, there, close beside him, was one grim faced Tommy Atkins, fighting with a fierceness unknown in the character of the William Tucker, Esq. , who had disappeared. As a matter of f act, Laoey knew nothing about who the man was or whence he carne. He had met him but seldona'in those old days, and the fact of Private William Tucker was scarcely one to be remembered. There carne a day when Lacey, with a mere hándful of men, was sent on a forced march, in an endeavor to join forces with another camp. But the march was not a success, and they presently found that they were cut off, in the midst of the hills, with the day fast closing in, and the hostile, yelling warriors all round them. They closed up silently with a dim feeling upon them that there was but small hope, and fought there steadily and doggedly, while the light failed. It was a certainty from the first of their being absolutely outnumbered, and they feil one after another, with those horrible black faces swarming round them - with fiendish warcries in their ears, and with only the determination in their hearts tofight to the last for the honor of the flag they eerved. There was one gallant young figure standing there and cheering on his men and overawing for a moment even those who swarmed about them. A spear thrnst had reached him at last and he staggered backward, with a score o: weapons leveled at him. But there was another who sprang in there before him with a clubbed rifle swungmadly ronnc his head - one who knew only that the man he had sworn in his heart to serve was lying there beueath him ; one who saw only a woman's face in faroff Eng land, as it had lain last on his breast one who knew that they should no reach the figure at his feet while he hac the power to stand and to fight. "I have come back to you, my dar ling, ' ' Charles Lacey was saying. ' ' When we were cut off there, with a mere handful of men, I little thought 1 shonlc ever see your face again. I - of all those who were with me - alone escaped, al though my wound took a long time to heal." "But how did you escape?" she asked breathlessly, while she clung to him. "There was a soldier there - a brave fellow who, for some unknown reason had stuck to me through all the cam paigu. Theyfound him lying across me with a bioken rifle in his hand, and they told me that his wounds were frightfu - enough to have killed half a dozen men. I only fouud out afterward who he was. They called him Private William Tucker. ' ' He wondered why she wore a black dress that night at dinner. When he asked her, she said, with the tears shining in her eyes, that it was for the sake of the dead soldier who had sent him back to


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